Why You Want to Ignore GPA When Hiring Sales People (Or Anyone At That Matter)

If GPA matters to you when hiring sales people, you are losing out on some of the best talent. GPA has no correlation to job success (Google) or success in general (How Children Succeed, Paul Tough).  GPA is a useless measure when it comes to hiring and using it as a hiring criteria is only hurting you, your team, and your organization.

“G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. … We found that they don’t predict anything.” — Laszlo Bock

The goal of hiring is to find people who can do the job. It’s that simple. Nothing else matters. If a person can do the job and do it well, hire them.  The rub happens in our attempt to determine if someone can do the job and too many of us screw it up. We use irrelevant, useless and mildly correlating criteria in an effort to “categorize” candidates as fits or not. It’s time to stop.

If you want to hire the best people, get real and be honest about what it takes to do the job. If it takes smarts, then look for a way to measure smarts, don’t use GPA. More importantly define “smart.”  What does “smart” mean. Does smart mean book smart, the ability to solve difficult problems, to be creative, to think ahead? What exactly do you mean by “smart?”

Hiring processes are filled with bad decision criteria at best and in too many cases with terrible criteria that doesn’t even correlate with success.

Do you require a college degree? How does that correlate to success? Do you require 10 years of industry knowledge? How does that correlate to success? Success early, maybe, but long term success?  A shitty sales person with industry knowledge may outperform a killer sales person with no industry knowledge for about 6 months, then what? Be real careful in how you identify success criteria. It’s not as black and white as you may want to believe.

A GPA is one of a number of terrible hiring criteria. Don’t get suckered into evaluating candidates on things that don’t matter. Evaluate them on things that do and as head of sales, or as the HR partner it’s your job to know what they are AND why they correlate.

Winning is about the people we can attract, hire and retain. So, let’s get it right!